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Remembering Gandhi and other freedom fighters this Martyrs’ Day!

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lives on in the heart of every Indian. His contributions as a freedom fighter and political leader continue to inspire people from all over the world. This Martyrs’ Day, lets sift through these books and recall the sacrifices of Mahatma Gandhi and several other freedom fighters who risked their lives to safeguard our nation.


Gandhi’s Assassin by Dhirendra K. Jha

Gandhi’s Assassin
Gandhi’s Assassin || Dhirendra K. Jha

Gandhi’s Assassin: The Making of Nathuram Godse and His Idea of India delves into Godse’s encounters with the people and organisations that shaped his worldview and gave him a feeling of purpose. The book recounts Godse’s gradual hardening of determination, as well as the tragic decisions and intrigue that eventually led to Mahatma Gandhi’s death in the turbulent aftermath of India’s independence in 1947.


Kitne Ghazi Aaye, Kitne Ghazi Gaye by Lt Gen KJS ‘Tiny’ Dhillon

Kitne Ghazi Aaye, Kitne Ghazi Gaye (Signed by the author)
Kitne Ghazi Aaye, Kitne Ghazi Gaye || Lt Gen KJS ‘Tiny’ Dhillon

Kitne Ghazi Aaye, Kitne Ghazi Gaye is an anecdotal, frank, and evocative account of an Army veteran’s life. It concentrates on the personal, professional, and, most significantly, family life of an Army soldier, and will not only provide insight into the challenges and tribulations he endured, but will also inspire a broad range of readers, particularly young defence aspirants.


Mahatma Gandhi by Raja Rao

Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi || Raja Rao

Mahatma Gandhi’s life is the story of a hero. Raja Rao upends the literary biography genre with imaginative non-linear chronology, through dialogue and anecdote, locating the physical within the metaphysical, and with a book that is both retrospective and contemporary at the same time in Mahatma Gandhi: The Great Indian Way. Rao concentrates on Gandhi’s years in South Africa, the birthplace of nonviolent resistance, before moving on to the epic independence struggle in India, which won Gandhi worldwide acclaim during his lifetime.


Gandhi before India by Ramachandra Guha

Gandhi Before India
Gandhi Before India || Ramachandra Guha

Based on archival research in four continents, this book explores Gandhi’s experiments with dissident cults, his friendships and enmities, and his failures as a husband and father. Gandhi Before India tells the dramatic story of how he mobilized a cross-class and inter-religious coalition, pledged to non-violence in their battle against a racist regime.


Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover by Akshaya Mukul

Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover
Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover || Akshaya Mukul

Premchand, Phanishwarnath Renu, Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand, and Josephine Miles are among the writers featured in Writer, Rebel, Soldier, Lover, as are Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, revolutionary Chandra Shekhar Azad, and actor Balraj Sahni. Its settings range from British prisons to an academically vigorous Allahabad and present-day Delhi, as well as monasteries in Europe.   is ambitious and intellectual, but it’s also an achingly beautiful tempest of a read.


India’s Most Fearless Series by Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh

India’s Most Fearless
India’s Most Fearless || Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh,

India’s Most Fearless highlights fourteen true stories of extraordinary bravery and fearlessness, offering a glimpse into the kind of heroism demonstrated by our troops in impossibly terrible situations and under immense provocation. Its two highly anticipated sequels bring you fourteen and ten more stories, respectively, of great fearlessness, bringing you closer than ever to the personal bravery demonstrated by Indian military soldiers in the line of duty.


1971 by Rachna Bisht Rawat

1971 || Rachna Bisht Rawat

1971: Charge of the Gorkhas and Other Stories, revisits the battlefields of the 1971 Indo-Pak war through the eyes of valiant soldiers from the army, navy, and air force who sacrificed their lives for a cause greater than themselves.


The Burning Chaffees by Balram Singh Mehta

The Burning Chaffees
The Burning Chaffees || Balram Singh Mehta

India launched a decisive war against Pakistan in 1971. However, prior to all-out war, an even more critical tank engagement was fought on 21 November 1971 by the C Squadron 45 Cavalry, which wrecked Pakistani General A.A.K. Niazi’s preparations for triumph and set the foundation for the Pakistani Army’s ultimate destruction. Brigadier B.S. Mehta’s The Burning Chaffees is a gripping account of the decisive combat of November 21st.


The Good Boatman by Rajmohan Gandhi

The Good Boatman
The Good Boatman || Rajmohan Gandhi

In this book, Rajmohan Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and an acclaimed biographer and scholar, attempts to understand the phenomenon that was Gandhi. This he does by examining in detail dominant and varied themes of Gandhi’s life. His unsuccessful bid to keep India united, his attitude towards caste and untouchability; his relationship with those whose empire he challenged; his controversial experiments with chastity; his views on God, truth and non-violence; and his selection of heirs to lead a new-born nation.


The Death and Afterlife of Mahatma Gandhi by Makarand R Paranjape

The Death And Afterlife Of Mahatma Gandhi
The Death And Afterlife Of Mahatma Gandhi || Makarand R Paranjape

Paranjape’s meticulous study culminates in his reading of Gandhi’s last six months in Delhi where, from the very edge of the grave, he wrought what was perhaps his greatest miracle – the saving of Delhi and thus of India itself from the internecine bloodshed of Partition. Paranjape, taking a cue from the Mahatma himself, also shows us a way to expiate our guilt and to heal the wounds of an ancient civilization torn into two.


The Man Before the Mahatma by Charles DiSalvo

The Man Before The Mahatma
The Man Before The Mahatma || Charles DiSalvo

At the age of eighteen, a shy and timid Mohandas Gandhi leaves his home in Gujarat for a life on his own. At forty-five, a confident and fearless Gandhi, ready to boldly lead his country to freedom, returns to India. What transforms him? The law. The Man before the Mahatma is the first biography of Gandhi’s life in the law. Using materials hidden away in archival vaults and brought to light for the first time, The Man before the Mahatma puts the reader inside dramatic experiences that changed Gandhi’s life forever and have never been written about—until now.


Mahatma Gandhi and his Apostles by Ved Mehta

Mahatma Gandhi And His Apostles
Mahatma Gandhi And His Apostles || Ved Mehta

Ved Mehta’s book on Gandhi (1977) is one of the great portraits of the political leader. Travelling the world to talk to Gandhi’s family, friends and followers, drawing his daily life in exacting detail, Mehta gives us a nuanced and complex picture of the great man and brings him vividly alive.


My Dear Bapu by Gopalkrishna Gandhi

My Dear Bapu
My Dear Bapu || Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, or Rajaji, was famously described by Mahatma Gandhi as his ‘conscience keeper’. The eighty-odd largely unpublished letters presented here span the period from the run-up to Independence to its early years, providing deep insight into the struggles and endeavours of Indian public life.


The Living Gandhi by Tara Sethia

The Living Gandhi
The Living Gandhi || Tara Sethia

This inspiring volume presents unique insights from leading international scholars, activists, educators and thought leaders on the contemporary relevance of Gandhi’s ideas and actions. The essays here reveal that for Gandhi, legitimate coercion by the state in certain cases was compatible with ahimsa; a balance between spiritual and material values was essential for a true civilization; and swaraj anchored in self-discipline and self-restraint was imperative for sustainable ways of life.


Gandhi, The Years That Changed the World by Ramachandra Guha

Gandhi lived one of the great 20th- century lives. He inspired and enraged, challenged and delighted millions of men and women around the world. He lived almost entirely in the shadow of British Raj, which for much of his life seemed a permanent fact, but which he did more than anyone else to bring down. In a world defined by violence and warfare and by fascist and communist dictatorships, Gandhi was armed with nothing more than his arguments and example. While fighting for national freedom, he also attacked caste and gender hierarchies and fought-and died-for inter-religious harmony. This magnificent book tells the story of Gandhi’s life from the time he left South Africa to his participation in the Second Round Table Conference.

Raja Rao’s Gandhi – A life in words

In many ways, Raja Rao changed the way Mahatma Gandhi is read and written about. Get a glimpse into the processes of his writing through Makarand R. Paranjape’s introduction to Mahatma Gandhi: The Great Indian Way: 


In the symposium on Raja Rao on 24 March 1997, I had spoken on his forthcoming book The Great Indian Way: A Life of Mahatma Gandhi. This was a marvellous retelling of Bapu’s life in the form of a modern purana. Rao had called it ‘an experiment in honesty’, adding that the ‘Pauranic style, therefore, is the only style an Indian can use’.

The publisher was Kapil Malhotra of Vision Books, who in 1996 had published The Meaning of India. Malhotra had inherited one-half of what used to be Dina Nath Malhotra’s Hind Pocket Books, India’s first paperback imprint. Malhotra, believing in Rao’s genius, had also published The Chessmaster and His Moves in 1988. That book had won Rao the coveted Neustadt Prize. The manuscript was part of a veritable treasure trove of unpublished material that some of us, who were close to Rao, had been fortunate to be able to see. But there were many more such unpublished works, which I had seen at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, where Rao’s papers now rested.

front cover The Great Indian Way
Mahatma Gandhi: The Great Indian Way||Raja Rao

After the Chessmaster, Malhotra published On the Ganga Ghat (1989) too. It was a unique collection of short stories with the common theme and location of Varanasi. It was clear that we were in the midst of a quiet Raja Rao efflorescence. It would culminate in his being posthumously awarded India’s second-highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2007, ten years after the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Fellowship mentioned earlier.

What was so special about Rao’s book, yet another of the hundreds written on Gandhi? Why had Mulk Raj Anand called it ‘Among the most authentic accounts of the Mahatma’s life and work’? It was this question that I had tried to answer in my presentation on Rao in the symposium in 1997.

The clue came from Rao himself. ‘Facts of course are there,’ he says in the preface, ‘but facts are shrill.’ Facts, in other words, do not tell the whole truth: ‘They have a way of saying more than they mean, and disbelievingly so. The silences and the symbols are omitted, and meaning taken out of breath and performance.’

What else do we have other than facts? It is, as Rao says, the ‘rasa, flavour, to makes facts melt into life’. The Indian experience is complex and multi-layered, requiring a special style to express it, even in modern times: ‘the Indian experience is such a palimpsest, layer behind layer of tradition and myth and custom go to make such an existence: gesture is ritual, and each act a statement in terms of philosophy, superstition, historical or linguistic provincialism, caste originality, or merely a personal one, and yet it’s all a whole, it’s India.’

Rao, next, makes a very bold statement: ‘Thus to face honesty against an Indian event, an Indian life, one’s expression has to be epic in style or to lie.’ Facts alone cannot tell the Indian story, nor can myths, rituals, or fables by themselves. The two must be combined in a unique manner. That was Rao’s reinvented pauranic style. Not in the manner of the old puranas, with— from the point of modern history—their unverifiable material. Nor the contemporary histories which were slaves to facts. But a unique combination of both.

This is what I called ‘seeing with three eyes’. The first eye sees only facts. The second espies the fable behind and around the fact. It is only the third eye, the eye of wisdom, that can combine both to see into the depths of things, their secret significance and meaning.

This special way of seeing is what Rao calls ‘fact against custom, history against time . . . geography against space.’ In his book on the Mahatma, this is precisely what Rao accomplishes, making ‘life larger than it seems, and its small impurities and accidents and parts, must perforce be transmuted into equations where the mighty becomes normal, and the normal in its turn becoming myth. Prose and poetry thus flow into one another, the personal and the impersonal, making the drama altogether noble and simple.’

An important feature of traditional Indian society, which persists to this very day, is its enormously rich and varied method of chronicling and celebrating life. In rural society, for instance, even humble craftspersons like weavers, potters, blacksmiths and wood workers have a specially designated bhiksha vritti jati, a group of mendicant performers, to record and disseminate their deeds. Thus, all our communities have their own jati puranas or community histories. Likewise, each village, each region, each state has its own legends, songs and stories. All these go into making up our rich narrative traditions.

Raja Rao, as he himself has often reiterated, belongs very much to this pauranic tradition. He has performed his duty as a writer as faithfully and sincerely as our ancient poets, who have told the stories of gods and demons, heroes and villains, apsaras and princesses, sages and mendicants with such zealous relish. A key and recurring figure in Raja Rao’s works is one of the greatest men of our times, Mahatma Gandhi. This book is Rao’s retelling of and tribute to Gandhi’s extraordinary life.


Through Mahatma Gandhi: The Great Indian Way, Raja Rao changed the rules of biography writing. The book paints a holistic and in-depth picture of a man who was larger than life.

A Glimpse Into the Emotional Side of Indira Gandhi, An Excerpt from ‘Indira Gandhi: A Biography’

Indira Gandhi was the first female Prime Minister of India. While most of her life was dominated by politics, only a few knew Indira’s non-political persona.
Pupul Jayakar’s ‘Indira Gandhi: A biography’ seeks to uncover the many personalities that lay within Mrs Gandhi. The book also reveals the complex personality of Indira Gandhi—her thoughts and feelings, her hates and prejudices, her insights and her faults, her loves and emotional entanglements.
Here’s an excerpt which gives a glimpse into the emotional side of the late prime minister.
Motilal Nehru died in Lucknow in the early hours of 6 February 1930. His son Jawaharlal Nehru, released from jail a week earlier, in view of his father’s deteriorating condition, had, in desperation, moved his father from Allahabad to Lucknow where the medical facilities were
better. Motilal had been like an elder brother to Gandhiji and it was as part of the family that Gandhiji, released from detention by the British Government, hastened to see Motilal and accompanied him to Lucknow. He found Motilal’s face swollen beyond recognition, his body racked by asthma and his kidneys failing. The old patriarch died cradled in the love of his family and friends. He remained a nonbeliever to the end of his life; scorning priests and the recitation of mantras, he had joked with Gandhiji, challenging him to a race to heaven. He said if they were to die at the same time, the Mahatma would probably walk alone across the river of death, while he, Motilal, would speed across it in a motor-boat and shoot past the gates of heaven. Whether he would be allowed into heaven or not was a totally different matter. In a more serious mood he told Gandhiji, ‘I am going soon and I shall not be here to see Swaraj, but I know you have won it and will soon have it.’
On the night of Motilal’s death Jawaharlal was with him till midnight. Jawaharlal later told Gandhiji:

A very strange thing happened to me. Papa told me last

night that he had been taught the Gayatri Mantra in his

childhood, but he never cared to repeat it and thought he

had forgotten it completely long ago, but that night as he

lay in bed it all came back to him and he found himself

repeating it.

Motilal’s body, wrapped in the Congress flag, was brought from Lucknow to Anand Bhawan. He was cremated at the Sangam in Allahabad, at the point where the three rivers met. His ashes were cast into the rivers, to journey to the oceans. Vast mourning crowds accompanied the cortège. Gandhiji was present, so were Swaroop Rani, Vijayalakshmi, Krishna, Kamala and Indira.
Jawaharlal cried out in grief at the loss of his father, a mountain had crumbled; he was now head of the family, responsible for his mother and sisters. He resolved to make them feel that nothing had changed in the old home. The bond between father and son had matured beyond love into mutual respect and pride; a relationship that united them in a commonality of work though, perhaps, not of mind. Jawaharlal was in those early years an austere man of few needs,
Motilal, a man whose laughter filled the vast house, who could gather his extended family and friends in his embrace, savour abundance and give with a generosity of heart. He had a razor-sharp intellect and a joie de vivre seldom seen amongst Indians in the third decade of the twentieth century.
Indira had loved her grandfather with the intensity of a child. He had protected her, come to her aid when her parents rebuked her, listened to her tiny problems and laughed them away. He was the anchor in her insecure, chaotic world; the foundation stone that was always there; a presence so total that there was no space left to be alone or insecure. Alone, almost forgotten in Anand Bhawan, Indira wept, hidden behind a pillar. It was her first introduction to sorrow; her body was racked by an emotion with which she was not familiar.
Referring to her grandfather Motilal five decades later, Indira said, ‘With his death Anand Bhawan was silent. His resounding voice no longer echoed in the rooms or along the verandahs.’ She described his warmth and his fierce short-lived anger. Smiling at her memories, she said:

He always seemed to fill a room, although I now realize

he wasn’t really that tall, but at that time I thought he was

very tall and broad . . . and when he laughed the whole

house sort of shook and laughed with him. He was a

biform human being, both man and woman, with strength,

intellect and an abundance of feeling.

With a twinkle in her eye she went on to say that she felt that she was like him. Jawaharlal felt depleted. After his father’s death, he felt the need to renew himself, to lay down the complex political problems that surrounded him, to relax, to look at trees, meet people, to have a holiday. So he sailed with Kamala and Indira on the S.S. Cracovia to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

The Story of Mahatma Gandhi And Where It All Began: ‘Junior Lives: Mahatma Gandhi’ — An Excerpt

Mahatma Gandhi, lovingly called Gandhiji and the Father of the Nation, has been remembered by the entire world for his honest, non-violent methods of leading a nation to independence.
In Sonia Mehta’s ‘Junior Lives: Mahatma Gandhi’, the author explores the life of Gandhiji from his childhood and shows us how he became the leader that he is today.
Here’s a short excerpt from the book.
The thirteen-year-old lad was impatient.  He wanted to get back to his friends, who were having a great time playing outdoors. But here he was—stuck indoors, made to dress up in clothes that were icky and uncomfortable.
‘Can I go now?’ he asked his mother, trying to shrug off the elaborate outfit she was trying to get him to wear.
‘No, Mohan,’ she replied. ‘You can’t go play with your friends today. It’s your wedding day.’
That young boy was Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. At thirteen years of age, he was about to get married to a girl who was just a little older than he was. His family would never have believed it then, but this boy was to grow up to become one of the world’s greatest leaders, who would lead India to freedom. He showed people a nonviolent way of life. Millions of people adored him and gave him titles like Father of the Nation, Bapu (meaning father) and Mahatma (meaning great soul). What an incredible achievement for such an ordinary boy, born to such ordinary parents!
A Happy Family
Young Mohan (for that was what his family called him) was born to Karamchand and Putlibai on 2 October 1869. Theirs was a large, happy family. Mohan had a sister and two brothers—all older than him, so you can imagine how much he was loved and petted. The family was quite wealthy and lived in a big, three-storeyed house in the Indian port-city of Porbandar, in what is now Gujarat. Karamchand was an educated man. The ruler of Rajkot admired him and made him the diwan of Porbandar. As diwan, he managed the business of the state. People respected Karamchand a lot and came to him for advice.
When Mohan was a young boy, he was very shy. He would spend all his time with his books.  This made him very thoughtful. However, he didn’t love studies; in fact, he found maths rather hard. But he was a good student overall, and his teachers thought well of him. One day, Mohan got his father’s permission to see a play about a king named Raja Harishchandra. The special thing about this king was that he never lied, no matter what happened to him. Mohan was so impressed by this play that he swore to never tell a lie in his life.
Always, Always Truthful
One morning, Mohan’s class was given a spelling test. Mohan knew all the spellings, except that of ‘kettle’. The English teacher, keen to prove that he was a good teacher, wanted all his students to know every spelling so that he could impress his superiors. When he saw that Mohan was unsure, he prodded him to peep at his neighbour’s slate and see the spelling.
‘But that would be cheating,’ an aghast Mohan thought. He refused to look at his neighbour’s slate, and eventually was the only boy in class who did not get all his spellings right. But that didn’t bother him. He was more bothered that his teacher had told him to cheat.
One of the only times Mohan lied was when he was in his early teens. He stole some gold from his brother and sold it. But it wasn’t for himself. He gave the money to his other brother to help him get out of debt. He couldn’t sleep that night. He tossed and turned, feeling awful. Finally, he confessed to his father. He was ready for any punishment. But instead of getting upset, Mohan’s father wept. He was hurt that his son had lied,  but happy he had confessed.
Mahatma Gandhi’s fascinating life goes way beyond the years documented in the pages of history. Get to know Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi before he became GandhiJi with Sonia Mehta’s ‘Junior Lives: Mahatma Gandhi’!

5 facts About the Father of our Nation You Should Know

Today marks the 148th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, or as he was dearly addressed, Bapuji. The extraordinary figure he was, revered and followed by many, Bapuji followed a simple, ordinary lifestyle. His teachings on truth and nonviolence (ahimsa) inspired the masses in India’s freedom movement against the British Raj, and it continues to do so even now.
Here are a few facts about the man who changed the landscape of India forever.  
The gift of anger creative - 1
Humble soul
The gift of anger creative - 2
Gandhiji understood the importance of self-sustenance
The gift of anger creative - 3
Gandhiji believed meditation was important for both body and mind
The gift of anger creative - 4
Kasturbaji died in prison, sent there with Gandhiji for civil disobedience
The gift of anger creative - 5
How many of these facts did you know about Bapu?
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5 Close Parallels Between Mahatma Gandhi and His ‘Brother in Spirit’

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, born in the Charsadda valley in the Pakhtun heartland, believed in the non-violent core of Islam. He sought to dissuade his people, the Pathans of the North-West Frontier Province, from adopting violent means for a separate Pakhtun land.
Rajmohan Gandhi’s biography — Ghaffar Khan: Non-Violent Badshah of the Pakhtuns, takes a discerning look into the larger than life trajectory of Badshah Khan’s life, drawing close parallels with the life of Mahatma Gandhi.
Here are five instances when Ghaffar Khan’s actions reminded one of Mahatma Gandhi.
Ghaffar Khan 01.jpg
Ghaffar Khan 02.jpg
Ghaffar Khan 03 (1).jpg
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Ghaffar Khan 05.jpg
Grab your copy of Rajmohan Gandhi’s Ghaffar Khan: Non-Violent Badshah of the Pakhtuns today!

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